Hams were the first on the Internet, and the first to make use of the web. (That’s right, there wasn’t always a web…) Heck, we didn’t need no stinkin Internet – back in 1985 a few of us formed a worldwide store-and-forward communication system, just like usenet newsgroups. At 300 baud! I can’t tell you how many times I ran into other hams while running Fidonet Node number 129/17, from my house in Pittsburgh, using twin modems and a pirated copy of “DoubleDOS.” Later, when those modems were dialing in to the actual Internet, I met hams at every virtual crossroads.

That brings us to Linux and radio. Real experimenters used Unix and Linux from the beginning, but historically the guys who wrote “popular” ham software, like Writelog, or Ham Radio Deluxe, pretty much never even considered Linux at the time. “Everyone” ran Windows.

Not any more. Thanks to publicity in ham magazines, and here on the web of course, Linux has claimed it’s rightful place as the OS of tinkerers and hobbyists worldwide. In fact, the ham radio operator of 2014 is much more of an experimenter (and a bit less of an appliance operator) than in recent history – thanks to better availability of stuff through the web (goodbye hamfests,) and universally-available how-to’s and documentation. When a guy in Germany manages to get his Digikeyer II working on Linux, he just puts up a page with the details and code. (Luckily, just as with contacts on the radio, English is the language of choice for International commerce and technical info.)

hams and open source
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